- Us in Standard 2, 1982 (Azmi is no longer in this picture. His face is just a vague memory in my mind)
In life, we go through many phases. And in life, we discover friendships. As time goes by, I realize that by giving, I am indirectly sharing my life with the people around me. At the same time, I believe by giving, I am also telling my friends how much I appreciate them for all the things that they have done for me. I appreciate them for their sincerities in the friendships they offered to me. I appreciate them for accepting me for who I am and not for what they expect me to be. People sometimes asked me, 'Why do you bother?' To answer that, I have to tell you a story which happened in the past, but transforms my future. This is a true story relating to the events that occurred in 1981 although I only had the guts to put the story in writing in 1994. Those who were in school with me at that time would probably remember how I acted back in those years.
I Regret It All My Life, by Dahlia Zawawi (1994)
Whenever I set my eyes through the windows of my house, there is always one thing that I see..my previous school. Although several changes have been made to the original structure of it, I can still picture myself running, playing and studying there. Throughout the six years which I had spent in that school, there are just too many memories for me to remember them all. But I am sure to recall an incident where I lost a friend. It happened in 1981, when I was in Standard One. My class consisted of about twenty pupils. Years before, the class was not as big as now. It had a small blackboard in front and all twenty chairs and desks were arranged neatly. The teacher’s table was put at one corner of the class with fresh flowers decorated beautifully on it. Because the building was old, you could feel the movement almost everywhere when someone ran in it.
Among my classmates, was this one boy named Azmi who was quite tall, fair and had dark curly hair. My teacher, Puan Rohiah, had him elected as our class monitor. He lived in Taman Sekamat which was not very far from the school and my house. I did not like him because he always scolded my naughty friends and then submitted their names to Puan Rohiah. One day, when I was sitting at my desk, he approached me. We talked for a while and that short meeting made me feel very uneasy. I prayed that he would go away, but unfortunately he did not. From that day onwards, he kept disturbing me. Once, he asked me where I live and he said that he would like to come to my house. At first, I was reluctant to give him my address, but when I saw his gloomy face, I agreed. I kept saying to myself, “What harm could he do to me?” Never at that time had I imagined that my worst nightmare had just begun. It had anyway.
Almost everyday, he would come to my house, riding a bicycle and he would shout my name even though he had not reached my home yet. I was very ashamed with my neighbours especially my best friend who happened to live next door. I wondered what they might think about Azmi. In the beginning, I really thought I would get some support from my mother. Instead, every time he visited me, she invited him to come in! After they talked for a while, my mother would normally left us alone. The visit was so frequent that I did not know what to talk anymore and I kept shouting angrily at him even though it was a very small mistake. There was this one time when my mother caught my bad behaviour and she scolded me in front of him. After that, I was asked to seek his forgiveness. I hated my mother at that moment! But surprisingly Azmi said, “It’s okay auntie, it was my mistake.” I appreciated what he had done although I still could not stop myself from feeling disgusted.
In school, my classmates had started to tease me about him. That made me more uncomfortable because as a little kid, I tended to take these kinds of things seriously. That was when I made my decision. I started to avoid him whenever I could. When he tried to help me, I would say no. If he looked at me, I would turn away. I guessed it was pretty obvious to him that I would never like him, so finally he gave up. Life seemed to be back to normal after that.
However, in the middle of June, 1981, he did not attend the class anymore. I was curious about his absence because my teacher did not even bother to ask where he had gone, as if she had already been informed about it. I could not concentrate in class that day, because I kept looking out for him. It was only after a few days that I learned the truth. According to one of my friends, he, along with his family, had moved to another place. I felt very depressed just by hearing the news. Knowing the fact that I was not informed really hurt me. But deep inside, I admitted that I should be the one who ought to be blamed. I had never given him a chance to be my friend. I did not want to ask anyone where he had gone for I was afraid that people would made fun of me. So, I kept the feeling to myself.
From that day onwards, I try to change my attitude towards my friends and I look at them as precious gifts given to me by God. Now, as I grow older, I begin to understand more about the importance of having friends. I promise myself that I will try my best to accept anyone who wants to make friends with me. Even gossips could not destroy my relationships with them. As long as the friendship is honest, I do not care.
I have regretted throughout my life for what I had done to Azmi. However, at the same time I thank him for making me realize the real value of a friendship. I hope that wherever Azmi is now, life will treat him well, and may he forgive the mistake this little girl had made. Azmi, I am sorry...
Sharing is the joy in my life. If you understand this, you will understand me.